23 June 2016

WA records dip in dangerously high drinking

The percentage of Western Australians consuming alcohol at dangerously high levels is the lowest in more than a decade.

Figures from the latest Health and Wellbeing Surveillance System report, Health and Wellbeing of Adults in Western Australia 2015, Overview and Trends show that just over  a quarter of WA adults (27.8 per cent) are drinking at levels that put them at high risk of long-term harm, a decrease from 36.2 per cent in 2002.

The report also shows that almost one in 10 (9.6 per cent) are risking short-term harm due to heavy drinking but this is also a decrease from 2002 levels (16.8 per cent). 

Across all age groups males were found to be at significantly greater risk of alcohol-related harm than females.

The level of risk is based on National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines that recommend no more than two standard drinks on any one day to reduce the lifetime risk of harm from alcohol-related disease or injury and no more than four standard drinks in any single day to reduce the risk of alcohol-related injury from that occasion of drinking.

Western Australia’s Chief Health Officer, Professor Tarun Weeramanthri welcomed the decline in risky drinking rates but said there was still room for improvement.

“Excessive alcohol consumption is a significant problem in our community.  It places a huge burden on our health system but an even bigger burden on those personally affected by it,” he said.

“Long-term heavy drinking increases a person’s risk of a host of health conditions including coronary heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, liver and pancreatic disease.

“But even a single heavy session can lead to accidents, violence and anti-social behaviour – jeopardising the safety not just of the individual concerned, but also others in the community.”

The Health and Wellbeing of Adults in Western Australia 2015, Overview and Trends is based on data collected by the WA Health and Wellbeing Surveillance System (HWSS), a continuous survey that monitors the health status of the Western Australian population.

The reports have been produced annually since 2002.

This latest report is based on interviews with almost 7000 Western Australians aged 16 and over that were conducted over the telephone between January and December last year.

 The survey also found that:

  • almost nine out of 10 adults considered their health to be as good as, if not better, than it had been the previous year
  • almost a quarter (23.7 per cent) had an injury in the previous 12 months that was treated by a healthcare professional
  • the prevalence of smokers had decreased significantly between 2002 (21.6 per cent) and 2015 (12.5 per cent )
  • the prevalence of adults completing the recommended levels of physical activity (63.8 per cent) remains significantly higher compared with 2007 (56.2 per cent) when this data was first collected.

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